What Is The Difference Between A Milk Allergy And Lactose Intolerance?

Sometimes people confuse having a milk allergy with being lactose intolerant.

What Is The Difference Between A Milk Allergy And Lactose IntoleranceIn reality, the two are different as the symptoms relate to different body systems – the immune system and the intestinal tract.

Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance is related to the intestinal tract.  This results in symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, and even vomiting occurring as the intestines don’t have the necessary enzymes to process the lactose sugar in milk.

Milk Allergy

When you have a milk allergy, this actually involves the immune system.  Your body recognizes the proteins of milk as foreign invaders and you develop antibodies (immunoglobulin) to milk.  Then, each time you take milk in your body histamines are released that affect different parts of the body: the gastrointestinal tract, the skin, the respiratory system and the cardiovascular system which then causes the allergy symptoms: nausea, headaches, stomach aches, cramps, nausea,  itchy hives, watery eyes, a runny nose, sneezing, asthma attacks, wheezing and coughing. These symptoms can occur within ten minutes to a couple of hours after eating the food that caused the allergy.

If you are allergic to milk, you will also have a reaction when you eat foods that contain milk products.  This is because the immune system identifies it as something that is harmful to the body and tries to fight it off.

When you have a milk allergy it’s important to eliminate all milk and dairy products and products which may contain traces of dairy from your diet.  The good news is that if you’re not able to consume dairy products there are many diary product alternatives:

  • rice milk
  • soy milk
  • almond milk
  • soy cheese
  • soy yogurt
  • tofu as a substitute for cheese in recipes


Life without dairy doesn’t mean that you have to give up on all the foods that you enjoy.  It just means looking for an appropriate substitute.  Some dairy products even include enzymes in there manufacturing process that will help those who are lactose intolerant to be able to process the milk and prevent the symptoms of the intolerance.
Follow our diary product alternative above, continue to enjoy experimenting with the substitutes and you will prevent allergy symptoms and maintain a fully functioning healthy body system.


Read “Tips on How to Manage Food Allergies” for more helpful advice and tips on managing food allergies or food intolerances.

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